2016 Client Briefings – Summary from a Non-Expert

by Alexandra Jobin | Nov 14, 2016
This year I was handed the exciting – yet slightly daunting – task of organising Energy Action’s Client Briefings. Exciting because, while I’m decades away from even coming remotely close to the incredible sea of knowledge that were the presenters, I find the energy industry incredibly fascinating. Current generations always (or nearly always) had the luxury of reliable and extensive energy infrastructure, hence the reason for taking it all for granted.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn by Energy Action Marketing & Communications Coordinator Alexandra Jobin. 

Ever since I began working in the industry I’ve had a growing appreciation and respect for the companies, government agencies and individuals that have built, maintained and improved this complex network, making it what it is today.

Daunting because, well, when half the Executive team is presenting to top clients, you don’t want to be the one to mess up. However, I am relieved to say that everything went smoothly, attendees definitely got valuable information out of the briefings and will be better equipped to tackle the erratic market businesses have to endure, now and in the foreseeably long-term future.

Enough babbling. Here’s what you missed.

‘Volatility’, ‘new norm’, ‘power shift’, ‘energy efficiency’ and ‘renewables’ were the buzz words heard throughout presentations by our CEO Scott Wooldridge, Trading & Pricing Director David Rylah and Innovation & Sustainability Director Dr Paul Bannister.

Scott kicked off the afternoon and set the tone by acknowledging price increases that weren’t about to drop back down. Scott was quick to point out that this wasn’t a purely Australian phenomenon and that, no, the grass is not greener on the other side. Indeed, it was oddly reassuring to observe that the cost of generation has increased globally and we have remained consistent over time in relation to countries with historically higher costs (e.g. UK, Japan and Italy) and countries with historically lower costs (e.g. Sweden, Canada and USA). Reassuring us further that the Australian energy market wasn’t completely out of whack, Scott proceeded to point out that we’re actually approaching economic equilibrium, where energy supply and demand meet, contrarily to the consistent oversupply we were used to having, which naturally pulled prices down.

Supply Side

A modest Scott then proceeded to hand over to the ‘real’ experts as he put it, starting with slightly fatalist, yet intimidatingly knowledgeable David Rylah.  

Reminiscing on the good old days, David discussed how different the retailer-consumer relationship was today to when he used to work for Energex. Back then, retailers warehoused risk around pricing, whereas now it’s the complete opposite and clients are the ones to absorb every jump and jolt in the wholesale market. With price volatility and price increase – which we will continue observing for years to come namely due to the decarbonisation of the grid –  we are entering unchartered waters as we are simultaneously experiencing a shift in power where retailers hold all the cards. Consumers’ weapons? Constant alertness and immediate reaction (sounds unnerving, doesn’t it? If only there was a company out there that could take care of all the trouble for you... Oh wait!) and taking steps toward energy independence through renewables and energy storage.

To sum up the need to adapt to substantial changes in the market, David finished off with a highly appropriate quote from Einstein:

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Protect your Business with Energy Efficiency

Last but certainly not least was the well-known Dr Paul Bannister, taking the stage to give us hope, grand ideas and inspiration.

We had pro-coal clients attending our briefings who raised their concern around grid decarbonisation. Sure, major power stations are obsolete and – polluting or not – must be brought into the 21st century, but why, clients asked, why not build new coal-fired power stations? Hey, it’s cheap and we have tons of it, so why not? With what was perhaps the greatest comeback of the century, Dr Bannister answered “yes, but we are also sitting on one of the world’s largest reserves of uranium and we don’t have nuclear power, do we?” Boy will I be using that argument during lengthy discussions with conservative uncles at Christmas dinners this year!

Another amazing fact from Dr Bannister that I will be keeping in my back pocket is around solar. Back in the mid-1990’s when Dr Bannister started working in solar, payback periods were longer than the number of years I’ve been alive (I’m kidding; I’m not that old), whereas we’re now looking at payback periods of less than seven years, and in three years’ time we’ll be looking at payback periods in the vicinity of the magic number: three years. But that’s not the fact that blew me away the most, rather it was that the price of solar has dropped 97% in the last 25 years.

97%. In 25 years. Mind blown.

Couldn’t make it?

From funding opportunities for energy efficiency upgrades to contract management services that double as insurance policies (e.g. for one client we identified and recovered overpayments in excess of $450k!), there are a number of topics that were covered at the Briefings that I can’t cover here because I’m closing in on 1000 words and I’m amazed you’ve even made it this far. What I mean to say is that Scott, David and Dr Bannister were extremely generous with their time and knowledge and if you didn’t (or couldn’t) make it, you may regret it in hindsight. But don’t despair! We have an Energy Industry Webinar coming up on 24 November from 10:00-10:30 conducted by David Rylah. Tons of contracts are up for renewal by the end of December and this will be our last webinar of 2016, so make sure to reserve your spot if you don’t want it snatched from beneath you!

Keen for more details?

Fill out the form below for a copy of the presentation. Alternatively, email me for more information at alexandra.jobin@energyaction.com.au.  

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